(The picture is about the contrast between a Chinese girl on the Budapest metro, who looked a bit like a naive kitten whilst the second woman is clearly in a different world all together….)
But then I have led a rather sheltered life. Leaving very little to the imagination, roadside prostitutes, with chairs or little outdoor dining areas, occupying a patch every few hundred yards for a long stretch of the SS114 to Syracuse. Mostly black women… Standing sometimes right in the middle of their side of the road. It was very thought provoking. All those questions of self worth, value, lack of opportunity, and then, what of the consumers? What is sex drive? Who am I to judge anyway? What do I know? The other evening, flipping through the TV channels in Pécs, on came some pretty hard core porn… It was gruesome and so soulless and I couldn’t turn it over quickly enough. In cold isolation it has always seemed such a funny thing to do… So different from the reality. Mystified again!
Just as well I am riding a bike I reckon!!
Back to the gorgeous road, with Mount Etna dominating the landscape for miles and miles. Scent of oranges and blossom and bright colours and HEAT! Not to mention HILLS… Gabriella in Catania said it was flat. Well, I’ve got news. It so is not!
The rewards of course are in direct proportion to the effort and while I sweated my way uphill first to Lentini, then more steeply to Carlentini, I felt relatively confident. Asking my way to the right road for Sortino, this bravado began to waver as more and more people said things like mio Dio by BICYCLE??? I grinned stupidly and shrugged but inside I wilted a bit…. How far? HOW steep? What will it take? Then as usual, something slipped into place, and the easy present just rolled in… I can do it now and now and now. What will it take? I’ve got what it takes…right now….that’s all I need to think about… And to keep me company, the most beautiful scenery, the toil, the lovely air, my wonderful bike.
Today was the first day I have ridden on into the dark. The road was a perfectly visible pale ribbon, my lights obviously alerting any traffic, and the deep pleasure of being able to enjoy all the phases of sunset, dying light and then the comforting dark; just so delicious not to be inside and missing it all!
When I finally found my B&B clinging to the side of the hill, I was greeted by Tina so warmly that I was instantly taken back all those years to Anna and Paola, and we stumbled along, not quite understanding each other at first, and then getting better as we got going! So lovely to be able to wander around outside after dark with only shirtsleeves and a warm waistcoat.
What a contrast to the last 2 weeks! My weary little legs are nonetheless thrilled to have been put to the test, and I think they have passed with flying colours … no question of those awful words ‘ could do better’ . My dears, you have surpassed yourselves!